Jason Green considered dropping out of college.
“When I was an RA, I was going through a lot of personal issues,” the first-generation scholar said. “My friends are what have kept me here and have kept me positive.”
And he’s glad they did. Green is now the university’s first black ASCSU president – and he won it by a landslide.
It began with Green’s diverse background. His bloodlines flow from Chinese, Native American, Spanish and African-American peoples.
He grew up in Aurora, where his parents and two brothers still reside. The diverse neighborhood was filled with ethnic backgrounds from Asian, Hispanic, black and white cultures.
“I never really identify with multiracial just because of my appearance, I identify with black American,” Green said.
Green’s diverse family tree branched off into a multicultural group of friends as he grew older.
“That has been my upbringing so I think that is why I feel comfortable in a (diverse) setting like CSU,” the senior psychology major said. “If you want to talk to me I will talk to you, that is just how I was brought up. That is how I was raised.”
Green’s mother, Diana, played a large role in teaching him openness and acceptance.
“I have a lot of respect for my mom,” Green said. “I am a first-generation student, and I think it was her goal to make sure we all have an education.”
Visits to the Greens’ house are welcomed with open arms and the sweet aroma of Southern cooking. Barbeque ribs and mashed potatoes are sometimes the sweetest things about going home, Green said.
“My mom can cook; she can throw it down,” Green said. “I am all about the home cookin’.”
Growing up with adversity
As a freshman he was studious, but during his sophomore year, Green emerged into the party scene and became more social.
While a sophomore resident assistant in Durward Hall, Green met a resident he suspected to be a white supremacist.
“It was the first contact I had with someone who disliked me based on my race,” Green said. “He was never threatening, but he did preach about what his viewpoints were and that kind of discouraged me.”
Green’s mother has seen a pattern of racism throughout Jason’s life.
“It is a daily battle. Things were thrown at him that were unfair,” she said. “A (CSU) administrator told him to consider a community college.”
She said Green and his friends were walking out of a store one day and were stopped randomly by a police officer to check their bags and receipts for no reason.
Among the racial barriers, Green was faced with numerous other personal problems.
“I had a lot different personal issues, which can just be part of the growing process,” Green said. “I went through things that people normally go through freshman year.”
Mike Ellis, executive director of the Lory Student Center, describes Green as “one of those students who seeks out resources.”
“He sought many people out, individuals who could help him see what gifts and skills he had and how he could put them into action,” Green said. “He reached down inside and made it work.”
Mr. Green goes to the Plaza
Green met Sadie Conrad at the ASCSU retreat. They were both standing in the back, wondering what they had gotten themselves into.
Because of their positive energy and close ties with faculty, fellow ASCSU cabinet members encouraged Green and Conrad, a senior nutrition and food sciences major, to run an election campaign.
Green’s and Conrad’s main objective is to make sure the cabinet is a true representation of the student body and wants all different viewpoints to be represented in administrative, community and legislative affairs.
“I think with diversity of the cabinet we will get those different viewpoints but we will also be seeking out students more,” Green said. “We are requiring all cabinet members to attend outside programming next year. When we show support for other organizations, we will get the support we need to become more successful.”
Green also wants to engage the students with the diversity programs that are already available to them.
“It is OK to be an advocate,” Green said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that you identify with that community, but I can say I am aware. I may not be able to fill your shoes and might not know where you are coming from but can at least be aware and understand.”
Green also wants open communication between students and the ASCSU cabinet members.
“I want everybody to know that we are there to serve them. We are going to do all the work to make the students successful,” Green said. “Every full time student is a member of ASCSU. It seems like in the past we seem to be a very exclusive group and that is why I joined, to try to shake things up.”
To help students understand the allocation of their student fees, Green hopes to involve them with the internal issues of the government. ASCSU oversees the spending of more than $16 million.
“I want the students to know that we are fighting for more student funding for higher education,” Green said.
In contrast to most of the former presidents, Green is a psychology major, which shades the glasses a bit differently.
“When he looks at things, he looks at others,” Ellis said.
Because of Green’s background, he has not considered a career in politics. His mom strongly opposes a political profession.
“Politics, to me, seems like they’re not after making a difference. They attack an issue that is so in the clouds that it doesn’t affect personal issues,” Diana Green said. “I do not want him to be in politics, but the kid seems to have a passion for it so how can I stop him?”
If his personality could be integrated into the job, Green said, a political career would be a definite possibility.
“I just feel like you can really affect change when you are in a position of power,” the new president said.
His mom agreed.
“He told me ‘it is really kind of funny how everyone is applauding me for what I’ve done, but I am still the same old guy,'” she said.
Emily Lance can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.